Pact moves closer to implementationThe transit transport agreement (TTA) signed between Nepal and China more than a month ago has moved a step closer to implementation with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) completing an action plan to prepare the protocol to the TTA.
The transit transport agreement (TTA) signed between Nepal and China more than a month ago has moved a step closer to implementation with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) completing an action plan to prepare the protocol to the TTA.
The protocol, which is key to the actualization of the treaty, will allow Nepal to conduct trade with third countries through China. Nepal presently conducts trade with third countries only through India.
Last week, the MoC submitted the action plan to the Foreign Ministry to forward it to the Chinese Embassy for its examination, according to Commerce Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyay.
The TTA is a framework and is incomplete without the protocol. In international relations, a protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or international agreement.The MoC’s action plan to prepare the protocol contains two objectives—form a study team to identify possible trade routes between Nepal and China along with Chinese ports through which goods can be imported, and form a negotiating team to conduct discussions with its Chinese counterpart.
The study team will identify ports in China where shipments from third countries will arrive.
“The team will also identify feasible transit routes linking the ports with entry points in Nepal,” said an MoC official. “It will also decide the customs arrangement, mode of transport, types of cargo and operational modality to be included in the protocol.”
According to Upadhyay, the ministry is waiting for the Chinese technical team to arrive in Nepal. The Nepali negotiating team which will work with the Chinese delegation will be formed after it gets here.
“We will put together our team after the Chinese team arrives since we have to match the levels of the officials of the two countries,” said the MoC source. “The Nepali team will include representatives from the Commerce, Foreign, Finance and Law ministries.”
Nepal’s negotiating team will present the study team’s findings to the Chinese team. “The two teams will then prepare a draft of the protocol which will be sent to the Cabinet for its approval before it is signed,” said the source. The Foreign Ministry has asked the Commerce Ministry to prepare and implement the protocol within six months.
According to experts, an efficient transport network and simplified paperwork and information system are essential to make practical use of the transit facility, and such things must be included in the protocol. The freedom of transit given to landlocked states under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea can only be fully exercised through bilateral agreements.
Nepal will be able to assert its freedom of transit through China under the TTA, but it can benefit from such a pact only after an effective protocol is implemented.